Book Review: The Energy of Nations, by Jeremy Leggett

I recall having written about this book already when the first chapter was published. See my post “Can’t Wait for Jeremy Leggett’s New Book Release” from September.

Now I had a chance to buy and read the Kindle edition. I was somewhat surprised at the price tag of $17.26, which is quite a lot for an e-book. Doesn’t the author want to reach a large audience? Why does he put off some potential readers with such a high price? Or was that the smart idea of a publisher, as opposed to the author himself?

That said, this book certainly was worth even that relatively high number of dollars. I’ll give it four stars at Amazon once I’m done here.

What impressed me most was the comparison between the lukewarm policies addressing global warming and the transition to renewable energy and the response to the chance of bankers losing some bonus or other. Politicians have got it completely backwards. They should have let Greece  and all the banks they bailed out go bust, and spent all that taxpayer money on renewable energy instead. That would have been a sure-fire way to create jobs and economic growth.

Leggett expects a major wake-up call in the coming years, with peak oil getting real.

What I don’t understand: Why is that a bad thing? As far as I am concerned, oil should be much more expensive than it is today. That will help getting the transition to renewable up to speed. Leggett understands this. So why does it look for wide parts of his book as if that was something to worry about?

And why should the oil companies deny peak oil? If people believe that oil is precious and will run out soon, they will be inclined to pay higher prices. What business case is there possibly for an oil company to object to higher prices for their product?

The above question is of course the central point of the Phaseout Profit Theory proposed on this blog. Global warming will be solved in less than a week once the fossil fuel companies understand that selling less of their stuff is actually good for their bottom lines.

Another question is why he thinks that the unburnable carbon assets will be stranded. I don’t understand that. If they can’t be burned, they can still be used as raw materials in the petrochemical industry.

Also, even if 80 percent of assets turn out to be stranded, the oil companies would still be ahead if the price goes up by more than a factor of five, which of course it will in a peak oil crisis. If you believe in peak oil, investing in companies owning some of the stuff that will go way up in price seems to be a smart move. Doesn’t the peak oil price hike at least compensate for the possibility of assets getting stranded?

One last comment. Leggett mentions the conflict between Japan and China about the Senkaku Islands, which he says is a “worthless rock”. Actually, as mentioned earlier here, there are about 10 percent of known World oil reserves to be found in the East China Sea, ownership of which moves with that particular rock. That of course means that China might get an appetite for aggressive warfare to change the status quo and get their hands on that oil.

That’s it for the moment. I think this is an excellent book and recommend reading it.



Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

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